In 2004—on a mission to bolster its community’s wellspring of art, creativity, and education—the nonprofit Bergen Performing Arts Center took over the former John Harms Center, an art deco–style movie and vaudeville palace built in 1926. Today, in the same antique theater where Shakespeare screened his first car-chase movie, the Bergen Performing Arts Center hosts 150 yearly events that bring dance, music, and theatrical productions to an estimated 250,000 annual audience members. Networks like HBO, PBS, and MTV all have filmed international broadcasts on Bergen Performing Arts Center’s stage, which has seen the likes of Tony Bennett, Woody Allen, and the Dixie Chicks.
A soulful songstress that dabbles in a mishmash of classic American musical genres, Joan Osborne blipped onto the nation's radar more than 15 years ago with the hit "One of Us" and remains steadfast well into the millennium. Immerse inner ears in an intimate acoustic set featuring Joan's pianist pal Keith Cotton and special guest Jeffry Braun. For this concert, The Ridgefield Playhouse will feature a complimentary preshow hors d'oeuvres spread from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. and a full bar stocked with buyable libations. Groups should call ahead to reserve blocks of seats.
Art of the Stand-Up Comic brings together a quintet of gut-busting talents who elicit laughter in one evening of tag-team hilarity. Carole Montgomery shows off the wickedly deadpan sarcasm that has won her gigs on Comedy Central, ABC, and MTV, whereas the author of The Idiot's Guide to Comedy Writing, Jim Mendrinos, tickles ribs with wry observational rants. Voice actor extraordinaire Brian Scott McFadden has lent his talents to such films as Ice Age II and Robots and interlaces high-energy monologues with hilarious impressions and characters. Also taking the stage, the youngest female comic to ever perform on Comedy Central's Live at Gotham, Liz Miele, mixes self-deprecating sarcasm with cutting insight, and Lori Sommer shows off the improvisational powers that led her to cofound the renowned Red Tie Mafia Improv Troupe.
The art-deco splendor of Radio City Music Hall melds with the show's sets to create an otherworldly atmosphere Time praised as a "perfect union of site and spectacle." Backdrops of oversize gears and coiling snakes rise to the top of the 60-foot proscenium arch, and projections show off eerie sand paintings on the surrounding walls. Anthemic rock music by Australian electropop prodigy Nick Littlemore blasts through the pipes of the Mighty Wurlitzer, modified to twist ominously like a sinister American Bandstand dancer.
Inspired by acts in Las Vegas and around the country, entertainers and pianists cover rock classics on twin grand pianos at Ha! Comedy Club's weekly Dueling Pianos extravaganza. From 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, dueling performers tickle the ivories and—when competition becomes especially fierce—each other, fielding crowd requests for pop favorites from the 1960s through to today. Musicians such as Mark Rivera, saxophonist for Billy Joel, join in the fun on stage as the kitchen and full bar keep the audience nourished with snacks and libations.
Hosting the evening's set, the historic Gramercy Theatre first opened its doors in 1937 and spent some 60 years as a movie palace and art house. Now wedged between two skyscrapers, it still retains some art-deco columns and flourishes striped into its façade. Inside, an intimate main room shares space with the eclectic Samsara Lounge where persian rugs and funky wall art imbue audiences with a rock 'n' roll spirit and inspire the spontaneous formation of nomadic tribes.